Joliet officials agree on redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes
After much debate over several months, the Joliet City Council made a decision on redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes, the apartment complex formerly known as Evergreen Terrace.
The city came to a consensus to consider approving one of three options for redevelopment plans. They range anywhere from maintaining 115 to 177 units and authorizing the non-renewal of 179 to 241 housing assistance payment contracts.
Joliet resident Ben Komar approached the council during the public comments section, questioning Holsten Development of Chicago and its involvement in the redevelopment plans for Riverwalk Homes.
“How can Holsten be an effective management agent for the city of Joliet, or in other words have the city’s best interests at heart, when they have 50 percent ownership of Evergreen Terrace?” he asked.
Corporation Counsel Marty Shanahan responded, saying the city was advised to work with Holsten prior to learning of the organization’s relationship with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The city is partnering with Holsten to run a limited liability company to help manage Riverwalk Homes.
Shanahan said it’s not an option to work with another entity.
In the 2013 settlement agreement between the city and HUD, it stipulates that Joliet is to partner with Holsten.
“There is a longstanding relationship in a positive way between HUD and Holsten Development of Chicago, and that was evident at just about every meeting that I’ve been to,” Shanahan said.
HUD has demonstrated receptiveness to the city’s option involving the non-renewal of 179 housing assistance payment contracts and the maintenance of 177 units.
Shanahan said the other options the city is weighing come with consequences.
“With [these scenarios, HUD does] not have to agree to one-year renewals,” he said.
With the city’s options, there are funding gaps that increase in value, depending on how many units are maintained.
What’s more is further litigation in the court is being sought by the apartment complex’s former owners.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman referenced a confidential memo the city had received from HUD and turned to it to help explain the city’s situation.
“The city’s position in the court is strong as long as we have HUDs support in this matter,” she read.
HUD will be reviewing the city’s efforts to relocate residents, regardless of which option officials choose.
The city still has not determined how many homes may be available to residents, if they choose to stay in Joliet.
Councilman Terry Morris said he does not want residents to be misled into thinking they can stay in the city or leave, if it’s unclear.
Holsten is responsible for assisting residents with the relocation for a certain period of time.
Peter Holsten, the head of Holsten Development of Chicago, said that once residents are relocated, it becomes the landlord’s responsibility to manage the unit.
City staff recommended that officials move forward with the scenario in which HUD is supportive of, which involves the non-renewal of 179 housing assistance payment contracts and the retention of 177 units. The plan is designed to help the city in acquiring the money spent to acquire Evergreen Terrace.
In a pair of 4-5 votes, the city failed to advance redevelopments plans that include a lesser amount of units being retained. Council Members Pat Mudron, Mike Turk, Don Dickinson and Larry Hug casted the dissenting votes.
In a separate 5-4 vote, the council decided to follow the recommendation of city staff to move forward with the mod-rehab of 177 units. Voting no were Mudron, Turk, Dickinson and Hug.
As such, the city is expected to have its architectural plans and an application for Individual Development Account funds submitted by next year.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said it would’ve been a mistake to ignore what HUD is telling the city to do.
“I think the major the mistake that the city made is ignoring what we were being told to do by the federal government,” he said. “It’s been loud and clear. I don’t think you need to be an attorney to hear what HUD is telling us. It would be a mistake not to listen to them this time around.”
The timeline for the Riverwalk Homes redevelopment plans are expected to ramp up after three years with the start of demolition to certain buildings.